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Cubs 5, Royals 0: David Bote, hero, just for one day

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The Cubs rookie had a big day at the plate.

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Who else here thinks David Bote ought to be playing (nearly) every day while Kris Bryant is on the disabled list?

(Watching for show of hands. Seeing lots of them.)

Bote went 2-for-3, including a two-run triple in the first inning, helping lead the Cubs to a 5-0 shutout win over the Royals. Joe Maddon is noticing:

Maddon acknowledged Bote is pushing hard to become an everyday player.

“He comes ready,” Maddon said. “You all know that. He’s eager. He’s a great teammate. Just wants the Cubs to win. That’s all he wants.

“He’s been showing that all along. He’s been available to ride the shuttle (from Triple-A Iowa), but right now he’s showing how valuable he actually is. He’s not afraid, and he’s very talented. And he feels like he belongs here, which is awesome.”

Bote is hitting .344/.436/.547 with five doubles, a triple (the one Tuesday night was his first), two home runs and 10 walks. Yes, this is a fairly small sample size of 78 plate appearances, but Bote has been hitting well since the middle of 2016, and though I don’t think he’s going to hit .344 for the rest of this season, I think he should be getting the bulk of playing time at third base while Bryant is out. He plays solid defense, too.

That triple in the first inning was a thing of beauty [VIDEO].

It went to the opposite field, something the coaching staff has been trying to get Cubs hitters to do more of.

Meanwhile, Mike Montgomery was mowing down Royals hitters. He had some help from Javier Baez, who performed some El Mago in the bottom of the first [VIDEO].

Javy did it again in the fourth [VIDEO].

That’s not the same play posted here twice. It’s two different, nearly identical plays, and though Javier Baez makes them look easy, trust me, those are very, very difficult, to know exactly where you’re running to avoid collision while keeping your eye on the ball and making the grab. And yet, Javy does these as a matter of routine. It’s just amazing fun to watch.

The Cubs got a defensive break earlier in that inning, when a ball went off Montgomery’s foot and took a convenient hop right to Addison Russell for an out [VIDEO].

If you’re getting the idea that it was the Cubs’ night, it was. They put two more runs across the plate in the fifth. Two singles and a sac fly by Ben Zobrist scored one run, and after another single, Bote drove in the second run of the inning with a hit, his third RBI of the evening.

The only sour note on the night was sounded right after that, when Zobrist left the game. It was reported he had “left hip tightness,” and departed as a precaution:

Seems to me it might be a good idea to rest Zobrist Wednesday night. That way he’d have a couple of days to rest the hip, and then be ready for Friday’s game against the Nationals at Wrigley Field. Zobrist is having an excellent season and is hitting .474/.511/.842 (18-for-38) over his last 12 games with six doubles, a triple and two home runs. No sense rushing him back into the lineup; at age 37 perhaps it’s better to rest this so it doesn’t get worse.

Beyond Bote’s hitting and Baez’ fielding, the story of this game was Montgomery, who threw six excellent innings. MiMo allowed just five singles and two walks, striking out four. He seems to save his best outings to throw against the team that originally drafted him. In four career games vs. the Royals, Montgomery has a 0.40 ERA and 0.806 WHIP in 22⅓ innings, with two walks and 18 strikeouts. Too bad the Cubs play the Royals only once every three years.

Bote accounted for the Cubs’ fifth and final run after drawing a walk, advancing to third on a single and scoring on a sac fly by Ian Happ. Meanwhile, the bullpen was doing an excellent job. Carl Edwards Jr., Jesse Chavez and Justin Wilson combined for three shutout innings, allowing one single and one walk and striking out three.

Speaking of Chavez, he and the other two Cubs July pitching acquisitions have been doing an outstanding job. Chavez, Cole Hamels and Brandon Kintzler have combined to throw 26⅓ innings with the Cubs, and have allowed 21 hits and five walks (0.987 WHIP) and three earned runs (1.03 ERA), with 26 strikeouts. This was just what the Cubs’ beleaguered pitching staff needed, just at the right time. Excellent work by Theo & Co. bringing in these three pitchers at almost no cost to the farm system.

And excellent work, too, by the San Diego Padres in Milwaukee Tuesday night. Maybe the Padres aren’t such a bad team after all. They piled up 11 runs on the Brewers pitching staff, including three home runs, and crushed them 11-5 — after Milwaukee had taken a 4-0 lead in the first inning. So thank you, Padres, we appreciate that! The Brewers loss, coupled with the Cubs’ victory, gives the Cubs a 2½-game lead in the N.L. Central, a little bit of breathing room. And the Cubs’ win put them at a new season high, 19 games over .500, and on pace for a 95-win season.

Once again Tuesday, there were a lot of Cubs fans at Kauffman Stadium. Just how many?

That has to be somewhat demoralizing, being booed in your home ballpark.

The Cubs go for the sweep in Kansas City Wednesday night, again at 7:15 p.m. CT. Jose Quintana, who has lots of experience (24 career starts, 12 at the K) against the Royals from his time with the White Sox, will be on the mound for the Cubs, opposing K.C. righthander Heath Fillmyer. TV coverage Wednesday will be on WGN.